Category Archives: Recipes

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The Witch’s Magical Winter Adventure

By | Books, Brewing, Cooking, Entheogens, Herbalism, Recipes | 19 Comments

Arbutus-handled brooms

A very magical couple and dear friends (who I’ll call Thicket and Huntress) picked me up on Thursday and off we went to Granville Island to visit the market and the artisans. We saw dozens upon dozens of handwoven brooms with handles from every tree imaginable (can’t you just picture one in Baba Yaga’s hut deep in the forest?). They were so witchily tempting, but each of us already had their like at home and which we really do use to sweep our houses with. We played handmade drums and rattles in the music shop, made fun of the incense prices in the magic shop, and went to see the silk weavers’ cottage where I bought plied red silk for weaving rowan cross charms. Then we had dinner in the market and, all of us being dirty-minded, just had to pick the European sausage stall. There was bratwurst and sauerkraut and friend onions and at least half a dozen mustards to choose from.

Granville Island Broom Co.

Bountiful berries in winter at the market

Then it was off and away to Kits to visit Banyen Books & Sound (I’ve gone on about them before). Thicket went to look at books while Huntress and I went right to the drums and to fondle the tarot decks. It’s always so hard to leave there without a stack of books. I managed to get away with only one book, but Huntress (a herbalist) left with a good stack of books on mushrooms and Grieve’s herbal. After pawing over them, we now highly recommend The Fungal Pharmacy, Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America (a really good identification guide), and both want (but didn’t buy) Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares. I, of course, couldn’t leave without a book on sacred brewing that talked of a whole hive mead, the magical properties of bee propolis and combines my two loves of mead and beer; Sacred and Healing Herbal Beers by the poetic Stephen Buhner.  It is full of recipes for meads and beers: herbal, medicinal, psychoactive, and delicious brews. There are henbane recipes in it – I may have swooned.

Banyen Books at dusk

Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares

Then we picked up their two wee ones and made the few hour drive to their place in an old gold rush town nestled deep in the mountains. The view late that night was black shadows of mountain peaks and every star imaginable shining down when far away from the light pollution of the city. I fell asleep next to a fire under a ceiling of stars. The next day Huntress and I drove through the gorgeous 360° views of impossibly tall mountains, wild forests, and a large snaking river.  When we returned we read aloud to each other favourite passages from Datura and Christian Rätsch’s Encyclopedia of  Psychoactive Plants while Thicket listened in amusement. We planned visionary plant journeys deep in the mountains’ wild forests for the spring where we will build a temporary structure of greenwood and a good fire, watch for wolves, and play our drums far away from the things of men.

Mead warming in glass and silver over a candle flame

The roaring fire

What better way to finish such a lovely simple day than to drink her hubby’s 4-year old cinnamon-clove mead warmed over the stove by a roaring fire? We talked late into the dark of spirits, magic, herbs, poisons, entheogens, wildcrafting, and doing plant journeys in the forest. “My arm hurts. There’s going to be a blizzard,” says Huntress, and it snows all night long and then the next day and the next. Old Woman had arrived at last. The once-green mountains turned white, a blinding mist rolled through the forest, and everything was covered in a deep, heavy blanket of snow.

The view from their front porch

The view from the other end of the porch

We all hid inside from the snow, watching Grimm and 13th Warrior. What do foody herbalists do when trapped by snow? We made all kinds of herbal teas – fresh lemon, fresh galangal root, and fresh kaffir lime leaves is amazing.  Huntress made us delicious lunches and snacks. Together her and I cooked a feast of roast goose with homemade cranberry jelly, bacon-mushroom stuffing, new potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms and asparagus (with more mead of course). There was so much rich goose fat you could feel your arteries harden, but it’s liquid gold and it was worth it.

Lemon, galangal, and lime leaf tea

Roast goose dinner

Bacon-Mushroom Stuffing

1/2 loaf of sourdough bread, cut into cubes
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 big handfuls of button mushrooms, quartered
pinches, to taste, of rosemary and thyme
salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten

Sautée the bacon with the mushrooms, onion, and garlic until the bacon is crisp. Take the pan off the heat and add the bread, s&p, and herbs and mix. Beat the eggs and pour them over the bread, stirring quickly before the egg has a chance to cook – get it to soak into the sourdough. Push down the stuffing mixture into a loaf pan and baste well with roasted goose, duck, or chicken fat. Bake for 30 min. Leave it uncovered if you like the outside crispy or cover with tinfoil if you like your stuffing soft and moist.

Drinking warmed mead by the fire

More nights staying up late drinking perfect mead in candle and firelight talking of homesteading, gardening, foraging, brewing, beekeeping, and a thousand other magical and wonderous topics we all share a love of. But then, alas, it came time to say goodbye and make the treacherous drive in the snow back down to the city from the mountains and the forest. We passed semis and suv’s on their sides in the snow and saw many a car fish-tail and almost lose control. But we didn’t – sometimes it’s good to have two magicians in a car. It snowed and snowed until we reached the city and found clear roads and blue sky among the clouds. Old Woman’s hold is less away from the mountains and the wild. I already miss my friends, the fire, and the nights of mead and conversation, but I have a hot cup of tea inside from the snow,  there is a candle spell burning on the kitchen table, and I have my fat black cat who missed my warm lap. Life is lovely.

herbal-tea-experiments

Herbal Tea Experiments

By | Folk Medicine, Herbalism, Recipes | 18 Comments

Lavender Lemon Tea

I managed to avoid all the plagues of my friends all winter so far, but I am apparently not so immune to the plagues of small children and finally succumbed to a cold. There’s nothing I hate more than a runny nose and a sore throat and I wasn’t about to put up with it for too long. My solution to almost every trouble is tea. Worried and stressed about something? Drink tea. Crappy day at work? Drink tea. Someone was mean to you? Drink tea. Get sick? You guessed it – drink tea! After three days of drinking copious quantities of homemade herbal teas, my cold was gone. They weren’t even fancy or exotic and they all tasted pretty good – especially with some delicious throat-soothing local honey stirred in. I love to make my own teas; to play with ingredients and flavours and see if they have any medicinal or emotional applications. They always make me feel better than drinking store-bought teas. To give them a try yourself I’ve included the recipes below. If you’re a vegan try substituting maple syrup for the honey.

Elderberry-Cinnamon

Makes 1 pot of tea, steep for 10-15 minutes

1 Tbsp elderberries, dried
1-2 cinnamon sticks, crushed
1-3 Tbsp of honey, to taste

Good for sore throats, coughs, cold and flu, bronchitis, asthma, etc – see the throat and lung connection? Also good for pleasure as it tastes like rich, fruity, spicey awesomeness. Wonderful in the evening after dinner as it’s like liquid dessert.

Ginger-Mint

Makes 1 pot of tea, steep 10-15 minutes

1 2-inch nub of fresh ginger root, sliced
1 bunch of fresh peppermint or spearmint (6-8 sprigs)
1-3 Tbsp of honey, optional

Good for coughs, nausea, headache, and generally cleansing the system. Tastes like a warm hug – no really. A tea I’d drink every day. If you don’t have mint in your garden or kitchen window, it’s one of the easiest herbs to find fresh in markets and grocery stores. Dried is okay, but just not the same – especially when you’re sick.

Fresh ginger and mint tea

Dandelion-Lemon-Ginger

Makes 1 pot of tea, steep 5-10 minutes

1 Tbsp dandelion root, roasted
1-3 lemon wedges, squeezed and crushed
1 2-inch nub of fresh ginger root, sliced
1-3 Tbsp of honey, to taste

Excellent for cleansing and tastes like a gingery earl grey. Makes a delicious every-day breakfast tea as a substitute for black tea or coffee. Good without the lemon too. Yum, yum, yum.

Lavender-Lemon-Herb

Makes 1 pot of tea, steep 5-8 minutes

1 mandarin orange, including peel, squished
1 small lemon or half a lemon, sliced and squished
1 tsp lavender, dried
1/2 tsp rosemary, dried
1/2 tsp thyme, dried
6-8 cloves
1-3 Tbsp of honey, to taste

For chasing away a cold or flu. Tastes like hot lavender lemonade with a mild bitter herbal aftertaste which is softened by the honey. Adding fresh ginger root definitely doesn’t hurt. Not my favourite, but not unpleasant. Only drink up to one pot a day for five days in a row.

Lemon-Herb

Makes 1 pot of tea, steep 5-8 minutes

1 large lemon, sliced and squished
1 bunch of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 bunch of fresh mint
1-3 Tbsp of honey, to taste

A go-to for chasing away colds. Tastes odd, but good. A savoury herbal tea which balances nicely with the lemon and honey. Seems to always do the trick after drinking it for a 2-4 days. Never drink it for more than a week in a row though due to the rosemary and thyme and stick to only one pot a day.

Midwinter Mulled Mead

By | Brewing, Cooking, Recipes | One Comment

Adding honey to the mulled mead

To me, nothing is more festive for the winter holidays than mulled anything; mulled cider, mulled wine, and, since I am a mead-maker, I had to make mulled mead. I used a bottle of my sugar pumpkin spice mead that has been aging for three years, delicious honey from Honey Grove Farm, citrus, spices, and a sprig of the Rocky Mountain Juniper I harvested this week. If you want to make your own mulled deliciousness I’ve included a recipe below:

Mulled Mead

  • 1 bottle of mead (750 ml)
  • 1/2 a small lemon
  • 1 mandarin orange, halved
  • 1 small sprig of fresh juniper
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger
  • 3-6 tbsp of unpasteurized honey to taste

A bottle of sack or metheglin mead is best (aka plain), but fruit meads can also be delicious – think mulled black currant, elderberry or cranberry or pomegranate… mmm. If you don’t make mead and can’t find some to purchase substitute with a sweet white wine like a Riesling or a Gewürztraminer. Pour the mead into a pot on the stove or into a crock pot and add all the ingredients. You can get creative and make a local version sans the exotic citrus and spices by adding  tips of fir and pine trees and juniper berries for a spicy forest flavour, frozen berries you picked in the forest in the summer for a touch of fruit, and vanilla leaf or sweet grass for a hint of wild sweetness.

Heat on low, without boiling, for at least an hour before drinking. If any of the ingredients start tasting too strong, take them out. It’s pretty tasty so you might want to use more than one bottle of mead if you’re sharing with others or you’ll be pouting into an empty cup. Drink warm in tea mugs or ceramic goblets and enjoy!

 

Sweets and treats from friends

Honey Lemon Rose Cake

By | Cooking, Recipes | 11 Comments

It was my birthday last week and I was suitably spoiled with a dinner on the patio of Horizons restaurant overlooking a gorgeous view from the top of my mountain with more mountains as far as the eye can see and the setting sun shining on the sea to the West. It was a beautiful day of a delicious locally-sourced dinner in the park with a view of the Ainu totem poles aptly named “The Playground of the Gods”, the mountains, and the sea inlet with crows flying overhead.

After a walk in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area my sweetie and I headed home for a slice of my delicious homemade honey lemon rose cake with lemon butter icing. It’s a recipe I wrote many years ago and almost forgot about until my birthday when I decided I wanted to change things up and have a cake that wasn’t chocolate. I’ve included  the recipe if you want to taste its deliciousness too! Omit the rose water and rose petals for a purely lemon treat. I chose lemon for happiness and prosperity and rose for love and healing for my next year of life on the mountain.

Honey Lemon Rose Cake

Mix ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cups honey, unpasteurized
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp rose water
1/2 cup wild rose petals
1 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed or diluted Realemon)
grated rind of one lemon

Then add the dry ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose or cake & pastry flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Lastly fold in:

3 egg whites, beaten until stiff peaks form

Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend the wet mixture (you may need to heat the honey with the lemon juice to get it to blend) and then sift in the dry ingredients through a sieve (sifting makes baked goods lighter and fluffier) and blend. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then gently fold them into the batter. Pour right away into two greased 8″ cake pans and place in your preheated oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Gently tip the cakes onto a cooling rack and allow to fully cool before icing. Because the cake is so light and fluffy be careful when moving the layers around so they don’t break.

 

Lemon Butter Icing

1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 cup lemon juice, or to taste
1-3 tbsp rose water, to taste
3-6 cups icing sugar, sifted

Stir and play with the quantities of sugar and liquids until you get the perfect, creamy, easily spreadable texture you want. Ice the cake, decorate the top with candied rose petals or lemon peel if desired, cut and eat! I’ve decorated the top with candied pansies before and it was gorgeous and tasty. Happy baking!

Pacific Northwest Kyphi

By | Herbalism, Recipes | 5 Comments

New Pacific Northwest Kyphi Incenses

For my challenge of crafting traditional incense using only botanicals native to the Pacific Northwest I decided to try my hand at not just one, but two kyphi recipes: Hawthorn Rose and Rocky Mountain. My recipes were crafted with Pacific Northwest botanicals using the traditional Egyptian method; a labour-intensive process which requires a month’s time to make and cure.

Kyphi is a solid compound incense of herbs and resins in a base of fruits soaked in honey and wine and formed into small bricks or pills. Kyphi incense was burned for evening prayers and as a folk medicine in ancient Egypt as long as 4000 years ago and, as a few of the original written recipes have survived, it is still burned today.

The ground wet and dry ingredients for kyphi recipes

First I ground up all the ingredients and split them into wet (berries and oils) and dry (herbs and resins) for each blend. The dry mixtures were left to mingle for about a week and a few days before the week was up I added local Similkameen wildflower honey and my homebrewed devil’s club-huckleberry mead to the ground juniper berries of the Rocky Mountain blend and the hawthorn berries and rosehips of the Hawthorn Rose blend. In ancient Egypt they would’ve used juniper berries and/or raisins to form the wet base along with the honey and the wine. Once blended, the wet mixtures are left to soak up the liquids for a few days so the fruits become a sticky paste.

The wet ingredients blended and ready to age

After the few days the dry ingredients are mixed in with the wet. I use my hands because the mixtures are too thick to stir with a spoon. The finished blends are then stored in air-tight containers for two weeks to fully incorporate all the textures and fragrances.

Blending the wet and dry ingredients together by hand

And then I shaped each blend into small bricks with my fingers and placed them on racks to cure and dry for another two weeks. I like to shape them into bricks instead of pills even though pills are easier because I think the pill shape makes kyphi look like animal droppings — it’s just a weird thing I have. I covered the tops of the kyphi bricks lightly with sheets of wax paper to keep off the dust and it worked beautifully.

Forming the kyphi blends into incense bricks

Once the bricks have cured and are no longer crumbly and sticky to the touch, they are ready to package and share with the world. Because they contain essential oils, they will only smell better as they are left to age and the high sugar and alcohol contents act as natural preservatives for a long shelf life.

Hawthorn Rose Kyphi Incense

A rich floral kyphi crafted with ambrosial native berries, flowers, roots, barks, and resins. Wild rose petals and sweet flag root mingle with sickly sweet bee propolis and wild cherry resins in a base of hawthorn berries and rosehips traditionally blended with honey and homebrewed honey wine.

Rocky Mountain Kyphi Incense

A complex Pacific Northwest kyphi recipe of fragrant evergreen forests and snowcapped mountains. Wild harvested Western Redcedar, Western Hemlock, and Spruce needles with local Pine resins in a base of Juniper berries traditionally blended with honey and homebrewed honey wine.

Newly packaged kyphi blends